Adventure of a lifetime – TROY alum Thomas braves the Brazilian Highlands on 18th season of Survivor
James “J.T.” Thomas, Jr., traded in the cattle ranch for the Brazilian Highlands to film season 18 of Survivor.
Thomas of Samson, AL, is a 2007 graduate of Troy University with a business marketing degree, and he operates a registered Angus Cattle Ranch in Mobile. Along with preparing the land and tending the cattle, Thomas is responsible for all of the paperwork and marketing associated with running the business.
Thomas says he has always been a fan of the show and applied on a whim. When he was called back for an interview, he said it was difficult to keep the news a secret from his family and friends.
After being selected as a cast member, Thomas said that he didn’t think it was real it until he left for Brazil.
“It was just too good to be true,” said Thomas, “I just knew something was going to go wrong.”
In order to prepare for the two months that would be spent in Brazil, Thomas said he watched every season of Survivor he could get his hands on.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Thomas, “I wanted to do everything I could to prepare my strategy.”
For season 18 Survivor Tocantins, the cast members were divided into tribes with eight people, and Thomas planned to gain the trust of four members of his tribe. Thomas’ said his strategy was to be honest and straight up.
Thomas said that he knew the competition was going to be grueling, but he was confident that his strong work ethic would help him be successful.
Of all the amenities he would have to do without, Thomas said he would miss food the most. The week before his departure he gained ten pounds to compensate for the weight he would lose.
Thomas credits Troy University for preparing him to do well on Survivor.
“TROY helped build my foundation,” said Thomas, “I learned a lot of responsibility, and how to make it on my own.”
Thomas said that he visits the City of Troy about once a month on business, and he has made plans to come back and watch the Trojans play football this fall.
Thomas is the third TROY alum to be a part of Survivor. Bobby Jon Drinkard appeared as a contestant on Survivor: Palau and Survivor: Guatemala, while Vecepia Towery appeared as a contestant and eventual winner of Survivor: Marquesas, the show’s fourth installment that aired in 2002.
Sellers, a senior broadcast journalism and public relations major from Ashford, is the foundation scholar for the office of university relations.